Somehow up until now, I have been sheltered from the amazing reality that there are Gays for Trump. Yes there was the out libertarian venture capitalist and Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel, who won a standing ovation when he spoke to the Republican National Convention. But the German-American entrepreneur is far from your run-of-the-mill gay guy and his speech had virtually nothing to do with LGBTQ concerns, except for a brief mention of the fact that he was the first out gay person to address a Republican convention in 16 years.
It turns out the Trump campaign also sought to "make it cool to be gay again" by offering what was promoted as Wake Up, "the most fab party at the RNC" on the second night of the convention. Many would argue that the major thrusts (you should pardon the expression) of Gays for Trump can be found in the headliners for the event: Milo Yiannopoulis and Pam Geller.
The Washington Blade reported that after taking off his bullet-proof vest Yiannopoulos appeared "Wearing a white tank top with the image of a gun in rainbow colors and the words 'We Shoot Back,' saying "the time has come for the LGBT community to separate itself from the progressive movement to take on Islamic extremism."
Other speakers concurred, and it appears one of the main reasons these gays support Trump is the belief that he will keep Muslims out of the U.S., thus protecting us from Islamic Law. It is said among Trump-supporting gay people that Hillary Clinton wants to bring "millions of Muslims" to the country, an assertion with no more truth in it than much of what is regularly heard from Trump's own mouth.
They also assert repeatedly that "Donald Trump is the most pro-gay candidate in the race," his pledge to appoint Supreme Court Justices that will overturn marriage equality notwithstanding. Assuming that Milo is typical of gay Trump supporters they may ignore this threat because, as Yiannopoulos wrote for Breitbart, it is "boring and stupid gays" that "retreat into conservative institutions like marriage."
The other draw for the Convention party seems to have been the art gallery set up by photographer Lucian Wintrich. The 500 or so party-goers (most of them white young men, according to the Blade) were apparently quite drawn to "Twinks for Trump," photos of barely post-pubescent (and mostly bare) hairless white men. Perhaps readers will pardon the stereotyping if I observe that most of them look to be bottom boys, something that would work quite well for the authoritarian Trump. More of the photos can be seen at Broadly Vice.
Perhaps it's no surprise that male escorts were reportedly "making a killing" at the convention and the M4M posts were surging on Craigslist. I make no judgments about sex workers or hooking up, but hypocrisy among the holier-than-thou crowd gives me a special kind of heartburn. The party platform enacted at the Convention was characterized by the Log Cabin [Gay] Republicans as the “most anti-LGBT … in the Party’s 162-year history."
Before running for President, Trump might have been described as LGBT-friendly. According to Salon, Trump "supported legal recognition for same-sex domestic partners, amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include LGBT people, and the repeal of 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.' His 2000 book, The America We Deserve, even hinted at the possibility of nondiscrimination protections in the workplace to protect LGBT employees."
But he's been trying to convince his right wing religious friends that he's had a change of heart. Picking the fundamentalist Catholic governor of Indiana Mike Pence as his running mate was a good start. Pence was responsible for that state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, intended to make it possible for virtually any business to refuse services to LGBT people based on their "religious convictions."
A corporate boycott that cost Indiana at least $60 million led to changes in Indiana's law, but not before it began a cascade of similar legislation across the country, including North Carolina's ridiculous HB2 -- of which Trump has voiced his approval.
The formation of a "religious advisory board" provided another opportunity for Mr. Trump to establish his anti-LGBT bona fides. Members include failed 2012 presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann who with her husband operates a gay conversion therapy clinic; and James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, an anti-gay lobbying group. Several other religious wing-nuts round out the group, with Robert Jeffress perhaps the most disturbing.
Jeffress has claimed that the gay rights movement “will pave the way for that future world dictator, the Antichrist, to persecute and martyr Christians without any repercussions whatsoever," and said (incorrectly, of course) that 70% of gay men have AIDS.
Not least, Mr. Trump has commented publicly about his plans to overturn Obama's executive order that forbids Federal contractors from discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Tell me again, Gays for Trump, how he will protect us from ISIS-like persecution. Just because we're not being thrown off of buildings doesn't make us safe. And even supposing he could keep any more Muslims from entering the country, what about other groups that Trump continues to push toward the margins?
Gays for Trump have the right to advocate and vote for whichever candidate they prefer. But all voters have an obligation as citizens to consider the impact of their choice on the country as whole and on the global community we share.